Sean Pendergast

Five Astros Are in the All Star Game, Awaiting Any Stray Boo Birds at Dodger Stadium Next Week

Jose Altuve has been selected for an Astros' team record eighth All Star Game berth.
Jose Altuve has been selected for an Astros' team record eighth All Star Game berth. Photo by Jack Gorman
Of all the fan bases around Major League Baseball, there are two that just can't seem to turn the page on the Houston Astros' sign stealing scandal back in 2017. Logically, those two fans bases belong to the New York Yankees and the Los Angeles Dodgers, the two teams the Astros finished off in the ALCS and World Series, respectively, that postseason.

Those fan bases continue to boo, curse, and whine, even though the Astros have apologized and paid their dues (for something that many other teams, including the Yankees, have either been caught doing or are believed to have done, but I digress). I bring this up because if Dodger fans want to boo the Houston Astros, they'll get a unique opportunity to boo several of them at the 2022 MLB All Star Game at Dodger Stadium next week.

On Friday, it was announced that second baseman Jose Altuve would start for the American League next week, his eighth selection overall and his fifth start, and on Sunday afternoon, it was announced that Altuve would be joined by four teammates — starting pitcher Justin Verlander (9th selection of his career), and three young players making their first All Star Games, DH Yordan Alvarez, outfielder Kyle Tucker, and starting pitcher Framber Valdez.

Here is the skinny on each of the five Astro All Stars:

JOSE ALTUVE, second baseman
As mentioned above, this will be Altuve's eighth selection to the All Star Game, having made his first appearance all the way back in 2012. Since then, it's been a Hall of Fame caliber ride for the diminutive native of Venezuela, and that's backed up by the fact that, as of now, the only two second basemen in MLB history with more All Star appearances are Ryne Sandberg (10), Bobby Doerr (9) and Red Schoendienst (9), all three of whom are in the Hall of Fame. Altuve's eighth selection to the All Star Game also moves him past Craig Biggio for the most in Astros team history. Altuve leads all second basemen in 2022 in home runs (17) and OPS (.907). He is the first Astros to start the All Star Game since 2019.

JUSTIN VERLANDER, starting pitcher
Verlander's Hall of Fame case was closed even before he tore his elbow in 2020 and required Tommy John surgery. What he's done since coming back at the beginning of this season is beginning to cement his status as a FIRST BALLOT Hall of Famer. Verlander, the 2019 Cy Young Award winner, has put himself firmly in the mix for the 2022 Cy Young Award by leading the American League in wins (11), while ranking second in ERA (2.00), WHIP (0.87) and opponents batting average (.190). With Dusty Baker managing the AL All Star team, and making the decision on the starting pitcher for the game, it would be a mild surprise if Verlander didn't start the game.

Now, we get into the three first All Star timers, beginning with Alvarez, who unfortunately went on the Injured List on Sunday with irritation of a hand injury he suffered back in late May. Alvarez actually won the initial phase of fan voting to start at DH, but lost to Shohei Ohtani in a run off for the starting spot. Fortunately, Alvarez's peers recognized his other worldly season in reserve voting. Alvarez urrently leads the Majors in OPS (1.058) and slugging pct. (.653) and ranks third in home runs (26) and fourth in on-base pct. (.405). Assuming he emerges after the All Star break in good health, Alvarez will be in the running for AL MVP at the age of 25.

KYLE TUCKER, outfielder
Along with Alvarez, Tucker is viewed as a future foundational piece in the Astros' everyday lineup. Tucker's ascent to All Star has been a steady one, since really turning the corner over the course of the COVID season in 2020, and then quietly putting up All Star numbers in 2021, Tucker's peers finally recognized him here in 2022 as one of the best young outfielders in the game. Tucker has been one of the top hitters in the AL, currently ranking fourth in RBI with 60. He also has 15 home runs while posting an .829 OPS. Additionally, he is among the best defensive outfielders in baseball.

FRAMBER VALDEZ, starting pitcher
The most imposing versions of the Houston Astros during this title window have had a couple hammers at the top of the starting pitching rotation. Like 2017, 2018, and 2019, one of those names is Justin Verlander. This season, Verlander's elite level tag team partner is Framber Valdez, who has been a "quality start" machine during the first half of the 2022 season, having pitched a quality start (at least six innings pitched giving up a maximum of three runs) in 14 consecutive starts. Valdez is 8-4 with a 2.67 ERA. He is the only pitcher in the AL to register two complete games this season and his 109.0 innings pitched rank second in the AL. He also ranks sixth in the AL in ERA and tied for sixth in wins.

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Sean Pendergast is a contributing freelance writer who covers Houston area sports daily in the News section, with periodic columns and features, as well. He also hosts the morning drive on SportsRadio 610, as well as the pre-game and post game shows for the Houston Texans.
Contact: Sean Pendergast